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Police Bust Robbery Suspects Who Impersonated Police

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Police Department detectives arrested three suspects who used a scheme to impersonate a police officer and rob victims throughout the Los Angeles area.  A fourth woman got away.  Police have her name and they are searching for her.

Investigators say 38-year-old Tony John, 42-year-old Shiela Yonka were apprehended at their homes and charged with robbery.  32-year-old Sofia Davis, a parolee, was arrested at her parole agent’s office.  All three suspects are from the Van Nuys area.

The robbers are believed to be responsible for seven robberies that occurred during the months of April and May 2009.  According to detectives, the bandits would approach the victim, identify themselves as undercover narcotic officers and asked the victim if they had any type of drugs.   The suspects would also walk up to a person and detain them.  After they detained the individual, the suspects would flash a police badge, rob the victim of their property and drive off.

During a May 5 robbery, a witness provided police with a partial license plate number of the suspect’s getaway car which led to several leads and the arrest of the trio.

The robbers have been involved in the following incidents:

•        May 5, 2009, at 6:30 p.m., a man was walking on Western Avenue and Melrose Boulevard, when he was approached by three suspects.  One of the suspects showed him a badge, identified himself as a narcotic officer, and took the victim’s property.

•        May 5, 2009, at 6:45 p.m., a 93-year-old woman was walking near 3rd Street and Van Ness Avenue, when two suspects pulled alongside of her in a white vehicle.  The suspects posed as police officers, ordered the victim to get inside their vehicle and drove her to her residence.  Once inside the residence, the suspect removed the victim’s property and fled.

•        May 5, 2009, at 7:00 p.m., a man was walking near Francis and Westmoreland Avenues, when he was approached by two suspects who flashed a police badge and identified themselves as police officers.  The suspects ordered the victim to turn around and stole his wallet.

•        May 5, 2009, at 8:00 p.m., a man walking in the vicinity of Victory Boulevard and Hazeltine Avenue, when two suspects approached him in white vehicle.  The suspects identified themselves as detectives and told the victim that they wanted to speak with him.  The victim did not believe that suspects were detectives and walked away.

•        May 5, 2009, at 8:30 p.m., a man was walking on Sherman Way and Hazeltine Avenue, when he was approached by two suspects posing as narcotic officers.  The suspects ordered the victim to hand over his wallet and accused the man of being a drug dealer.  The suspects took the victim’s wallet and drove off.

•        April 12, 2009, at 7:45 a.m., a group of individuals were walking on Lexington Avenue and Gordon Street, when two suspects walked up to them and produced a police badge.  The suspects ordered the individuals to turn around.  The suspects told the group they were conducting a search for narcotics and stole their property.

•        April 12, 2009, at 8:00 a.m., two suspects approached a man walking in the area of Cerritos Place and Wilcox Avenue, displayed a police badge and told him they were conducting a narcotic investigation.  The suspect ordered the victim to turn around, took his money and fled in a vehicle.  

Anyone with information regarding these robberies is asked to call Olympic Robbery Detectives at 213-382-9460.  After hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 or by texting CRIMES (274637) and beginning the message with the letters LAPD.  Tipsters may also submit information on the LAPD website www.lapdonline.org.  All tips will remain anonymous.

Thief Nabbed by Police

Los Angeles: Los Angeles police officers nabbed a thief who attempted to steal property from a sheet metal company in the Pacoima area on May 13, 2009.

After receiving a theft complaint, undercover officers working the Predator Apprehension Detail (PAD) set up surveillance to catch the suspect.  At around 8:30 p.m., the officers observed the suspect identified as 32-year-old Rudy Maldonado enter inside the gated shipping area of the company trying to steal several boxes of range igniters and thermostats.  After the officers identified themselves as police, they attempted to detain the suspect, but he resisted and tried to run away.  An altercation occurred.  To affect the arrest, an officer holding a flashlight in his hand used a fist to strike him in the cheek and the nose.  The suspect was eventually pulled down to the ground and taken into custody.

The suspect was transported to Pacifica Hospital where he was treated for a cut to the bridge of his nose.

Maldonado was later taken to jail and charged with grand theft. He is being held on a $20,000 bail.

Los Angeles Police Department’s Force Investigation Division will handle the incident.


Recruit class 0409 058  The latest class, began training on April 27, 2009 and it is composed of 64 recruits, 14 females and 50 males. This class will bring the Los Angeles Police Department even closer to reaching its goal of having 10,000 sworn officers. The highest number of officers ever assigned to the Department.

This morning at Elysian Park Academy, Chief Bratton paid a visit to the recruits. Chief Bratton congratulated the class for joining the academy and getting trough the grueling hiring process. Academy training is consciously designed to test the recruits in every way, physically, mentally and emotionally. The idea behind the high level of stress during training is to prepare the recruits to deal with issues when they graduate and patrol the streets of Los Angeles.

Recruit class 0409 059 Chief Bratton acknowledged that the recruits could not have joined the Department at a better time. The field of law enforcement is phenomenal, it is a profession that has a profound impact and a sense of accomplishment. By becoming an LAPD officer the recruits have a chance to intimately serve a city of over 4 million residents that are from different races, backgrounds, religion and economic backgrounds.
Serving the City of Los Angeles and being a Los Angeles Police Officer is a privilege. Los Angeles is a model for the 21st century of what an American city can be. Chief Bratton reinforced to the recruits that police officer should never fall to temptations and should never break the law in order to enforce it. “You should never do anything that brings disrespect to this Department, to you personally, and to your families.”

Lastly Chief Bratton informed the class they were receiving the best training in more than 27 fields of knowledge, from some of the best instructors in the nation. His expectations from the recruits while they are in the academy are to study hard, work hard, and work together. He encouraged the recruits to have integrity be courageous, and committed.

Download Chief recruit class 0409

Click It or Ticket Campaign

Los Angeles: Keep you and your family safe by making sure everyone wears their seat belts for every trip.  That's the message that the Los Angeles Police Department is telling drivers as part of the 2009 start-of-summer Click It or Ticket mobilization, May 18 through 31, 2009.

No warnings will be given out, as the Los Angeles Police Department will be aggressively enforcing the state's occupant protection laws.  The Click It or Ticket campaign relies on heavy enforcement and public education as a means to help save lives on California's roadways.

"Seat belts save thousands of lives every year," said Sergeant Bob Rieboldt, Traffic Coordination Section.  "Buckling up will not only save you a heavy fine, it can also save your life.  We're not giving warnings.  It's Click It or Ticket."

Currently, California has a seat belt usage rate of 95.7 percent, but that still means over one half million people are not buckling up.  Properly restrained drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants.  Those ejected from vehicles in crashes or rollovers are up to 35 times more likely to die than restrained occupants.

"Buckling up just makes sense," said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety.  "It takes only two seconds for an action that can make the difference whether you or your family gets home today."

More than 90 local law enforcement agencies statewide and the California Highway Patrol will be participating in this year's Click It or Ticket mobilization. Funding to support California's Click It or Ticket campaign was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you have any questions regarding the seat belt mobilization, please contact Officer Don Inman, Traffic Coordination Section at 213-847-1630.

Attempted Kidnapping Suspect Arrested

A suspect photo and incident location information has been added to this release.

Los Angeles: Yesterday, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) Mission Division Special Assault Unit arrested 26-year-old José Maldonado at his residence in the 13000 block of Montague Street in Arleta for attempting to kidnap a juvenile female at knifepoint, also in Arleta, on May 18, 2009, at about 4:30 p.m.

The victim claimed she was walking home near the intersection of Osborne Street and Canterbury Avenue when Maldonado got out of a parked car and approached her, wearing a white T-shirt that obscured the lower portion of his face.  According to the victim, he then grabbed her, threatened her with a six-inch folding knife and told her to get into the car.  At that point, a struggle for control of the knife ensued.

From a distance, the victim's father saw what was happening, so he began yelling and running toward the scuffle, which caused Maldonado to stop what he was doing, get back into his car and drive away. 
Detective investigation and resources led to the identification of Maldonado, and he was arrested without incident.  He has been booked for attempted kidnapping and is being held on $1 million bail.

Anyone with more information about the incident or who has been a victim of a similar crime related to this suspect is urged to contact Mission Division Detectives Bishop or Gonzales at 818-838-9810.  After hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "Crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on web tips.  When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Notes from the May 19, 2009 Weekly Police Commission Meeting

•    Police Chief William Bratton informed the Commission that he was in Washington D.C last week as part of a police memorial which honored fallen Los Angeles Police Officers Randall Simmons and Spree Desha among others.  The Department had a contingent of more than 100 officers in attendance.  While in D.C., Chief Bratton also met with Department of Homeland Security personnel to discuss counter-terrorism policies and procedures.

•    The verbal presentation by the Department and the Mary Magdalene Project relative to the Mary Magdalene Project was given by Dr. Martin McCombs and Deputy Chief Michael Moore.  Dr. McCombs spoke on the history of the institution saying the organization gives women who have been victimized by street prostitution the opportunity to turn their lives around and has been in existence for 30 years.  Chief Moore stated Valley Bureau works with the Mary Magdalene Project to help women who have been arrested for prostitution in the area.  The pilot program, which took 3 ½ years to develop, is given at no cost to the City and is funded by grants.

•    The verbal presentation by the Department and the U.S Attorney’s Office relative to gang enforcement and prosecution was given by United States Attorney Tom Obrien.  Mr. Obrien’s district covers 7 Southern California counties including Los Angeles.  Increased cooperation between state and local agencies had led to the capture and imprisonment of some of the most notorious gang members in the city.  Mr. Obrien added Chief Bratton has been one of the biggest collaborators with his office in devising a comprehensive attack on the most violent and active gangs in the City.  He finished by saying he looks forward to continuing their efforts in the fight against gang violence.

•    The verbal presentation by the Department and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University regarding the “Policing Los Angeles Under a Consent Decree: The Dynamics of Change at the LAPD” report was given by Ms. Christine Cole and Mr. Todd Fogelsong.  Ms. Cole stated the study aimed to answer a number of questions pertaining to the Department as it relates to organizational progress.  The report analyzed data provided by the Department and conducted numerous surveys.  The findings revealed a greater accountability with officers and as a result, there has been a reduction in crime, an increase in public confidence and an increase in the total number of prosecutions.  Ms. Cole finished by adding the full report could be viewed on the University’s website.

•    The Department’s report, dated May 4, 2009, relative to the Department’s response to the recommendation of the Office of the Inspector General’s Non-Categorical use of Force Investigations Audit, Fiscal Year 2007/2008, was continued to next week.

•    The Department’s report, dated May 12, 2009, relative to the Request for Information: Recapitulation of Warrants Authored and Firearms Seized by Gang Impact Teams, First Quarter 2009, was approved.

•    The Department’s report, dated April 30, 2009, relative to the Semi-Annual Consent Decree Mental Illness Project Status Report – July through December 2008, was approved and transmitted to the City Council, Public Safety Committee.

19-Year-Old Girl Shot and Killed

Los Angeles:  A teenager was shot and killed in broad daylight in South Los Angeles.

On May 8, 2009, at 10:25 a.m., the victim, Rosa Gallegos, was sitting in the driver's seat of her vehicle.  She was parked in the 3400 block of South 11th Avenue talking with her boyfriend, along with his friend.  They were standing on the sidewalk next to the Gallegos' vehicle. 

The suspects approached in a black Chevrolet Malibu and stopped near Gallegos' vehicle. One of the suspects in the rear passenger seat exited and fired several gunshots at the boyfriend and his friend.  The boyfriend fled on foot and was able to escape the gunfire, but his friend was struck in the arm and fell to the ground.  The gunman then fired additional shots at Gallegos, striking her multiple times in the torso and throat area.   

Gallegos was transported to a local hospital where she died from her injuries a short time later. 

Criminal Gang Homicide Detectives follow-up investigation resulted in identifying the suspects' car and its driver at the time of shooting.  The driver has been identified as 21-year-old Joel Childress.  He was arrested and booked for 187 (a) PC, Murder. 

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Southwest Homicide Squad at 213-485-1385.  During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "Crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Missing Man Needs Medication


Mr. Diaz was found on May, 20, 2009 at around 1 p.m. near Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in good condition by his nephew.

Los Angeles:  The Los Angeles Police Department and the family of Basilio Diaz are asking for the public's help in locating him.

On Monday, May 18, 2009, at around 8:00 a.m., Basilio and his wife boarded the #754 Bus at Vermont Avenue and Adams Boulevard.  At Vermont Avenue and 11th Street Mrs. Diaz exited the bus, believing that her husband was right behind her.  Basilio, however, did not get off the bus.  Mrs. Diaz went looking for her husband at the next stop near Vermont Avenue and Olympic Boulevard.  Witnesses there said they saw Basilio exit the bus and walk away.  A family friend spotted Basilio at about 3:00 p.m. near Rimpau Boulevard and Pico Boulevard, but did not realize he was lost.

Basilio is a 67-year-old Hispanic man, with black hair, brown eyes, 5 ft. tall, 155 lbs., dark complexion, and a thin build.  He was last seen wearing a blue LA Dodger hat, a plaid shirt and blue jeans.

Basilio suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and requires medication. He does not speak English and only speaks a specific dialect of Spanish.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this missing person is asked to call the Southwest Area Front Desk at 213-485-2582 and ask to speak to the Watch Commander.  During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "Crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Hundreds of Citations Issued to Motorists

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles police officers issued hundreds of citations to motorists who failed to yield to pedestrians during a sting operation in Northridge.

The traffic enforcement operation took place on Friday, May 8, 2009 between 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the intersection of Reseda Boulevard and Vincennes Street.  Although there has been a 17% reduction of auto vs. pedestrian traffic collisions in the San Fernando Valley, there has been a 30% increase of these types of collisions in Devonshire Area, thus far this year.  In an effort to increase pedestrian safety, officers from Devonshire Area and Valley Traffic Division conducted aggressive enforcement on the state’s pedestrian safety laws, specifically, laws requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians within crosswalks. 

The enforcement resulted in 187 motorists being cited primarily for drivers failing to yield to pedestrians crossing within a marked crosswalk.  Police officers, in plain clothes, walked across Reseda Boulevard and when motorists failed to yield to the pedestrians they were stopped and cited.

California has a right-of-way law for pedestrians within crosswalks, either marked or unmarked, which requires drivers to yield to pedestrians and exercise due care for their safety. 

The Los Angeles Police Department would like to remind motorists and pedestrians to be extra cautious when driving or walking across streets.  

For further information contact Detective William Bustos, Valley Traffic Division, at 818-644-8020. 

Man Murdered in Busy LA Shopping Mall Parking Lot

Los Angeles:  A man was killed in the parking structure of a shopping mall yesterday in the Wilshire area of Los Angeles and his alleged assailant was detained by Los Angeles Airport (LAX) police three hours later.

On May 18, 2009, at around 3:10 p.m., police were called out to investigate a "shots fired" call in the 8500 block of Beverly Boulevard.  When the officers arrived, they found 21-year-old Roderick Anthony Burton of Atlanta Georgia, lying on the ground suffering from several gunshot wounds. 

Paramedics rushed the victim to a local hospital where he died a short time later.   

The detectives immediately developed several leads to help them identify the suspect who fled the scene before police arrived.  The suspect has been identified as 23-year-old Aubrey Louis Berry, a resident of Snellville, Georgia.  He was arrested at LAX at about 6:15 p.m. and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. 

Investigators have not determined what prompted the shooting and the investigation is ongoing. 

Anyone with information about the murder incident is urged to contact Wilshire Homicide Detectives at 213-473-0446.  During off-hours, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "Crimes" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on web tips.  When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous